Browsing Category Features

Baby Grandmothers’ Kenny Håkansson on The Shadows – “Apache”

Before there was the current wave of Swedish psychedelia, there was Baby Grandmothers. The trio helped shape the sound that would trickle down to Dungen, Skogen Brinner, The Works and Life on Earth. Much of that was due to the guiding hand of guitarist Kenny Håkansson, who would shift the band’s sound from a more basic rock approach into shades of psychedelia that pushed farther than their peers. A few years back the band’s early recordings were resurrected by Dungen’s Reine Fisk, a collection which surely seemed like the definitive archive of their works. However, the band, not content to be consigned to merely Swedish history, is back with a new album for Subliminal Sounds this year. Before diving into the new sounds, Håkansson takes us back to where he began, with one of the key surf singles of all time from The Shadows.

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Anna St. Louis on Gimmer Nicholson – Christopher Idylls

One of the great breakout records of 2018 has been the Mare/Woodsist debut proper from Anna St. Louis (she issued a tape last year but this marks the first LP). The record stradles the line between fingerpicked folk and the sunset strains of bittersweet ’70s country. Her songs have a gravity that’s hard to shake, so it stands to reason that looking behind the curtain on her sound would yield a proper gem. St. Louis sheds a little light on a folk obscurity given new life a little while back by the proper diggers over at Light in the Attic. Check out her pick, Gimmer Nicholson, below.

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Chris Corsano on Betty Harris “There’s A Break In The Road”

Part two of the Orcutt-Corsano Hidden Gems naturally falls to Chris Corsano’s pick. There are no real set rules to this feature and even if there were I’d break them all the same for this pick. Chris eschews the album focus in favor of a soul single that’s anchored deep by a drumming legend. As Chris is himself a powerhouse collaborator who elevates any project he anchors, its wise to sit up and listen when he’s recommending a song based on how hard the drummer sweats it out. If you’re unfamiliar with Corsano’s catalog, then its fair to say you might have missed a great deal of the best moments in experimental music in the last decade. Aside from his multiple collaborations with Bill Orcutt he’s found himself crumbling the cosmos alongside Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty, Okkyung Lee, Bill Nace, Nels Cline and Thurston Moore among others. Check out Corsano’s discovery of Betty Harris’ 1969 single and the world shaking impact its had on him.

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Bill Orcutt on James Blood Ulmer – Odyssey

This week I’ve got a two-parter Hidden Gems that focuses on a couple of underground legends. In anticipation of the release of their latest collaboration, Brace Up!, both Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano have contributed picks to the series. I’m starting here with Orcutt, whose singular guitar style defies all schools of tradition. As such, he gravitates to a guitarist who’d been flouting conventions long before him and it seems fitting that Bill has payed tribute to the great James Blood Ulmer here. Orcutt has built an enviable catalog of works going back to his ’90s work with the seminal Harry Pussy and on through collaborations with Alan Bishop, Michael Morley, Circuit des Yeux and Loren Connors. Check below for how Ulmer’s work came into the life of Orcutt and how Odyssey impacted his own musical journey.

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Design Inspiration: Arik Roper

I mentioned before that I’m thrilled to get this feature back in motion and I can assure you there are some great entries on the schedule already. One such legend of the sleeve that inspired this series is Arik Roper. His sleeves are a high water mark for doom and metal and there are few today working in the field who muster the same kind of iconic connection between sleeve and album that Arik can. Like Roger Dean or Marcus Keef before him, his sleeves feel like the music contained within. Without even hearing a note, there’s a sense of how heavy, how dense and how life changing the music he’s designed for will be. In that regard, its great to have him sit down and catalog a few of the artists that helped him find his own vision.

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Goatman on Robert Fripp / Carlos Garnett

When Goat’s World Music found its way out I was immediately smitten, and certainly not alone it would seem. The album has marked many lists over the years and serves as the jumping off point for Goat’s dense catalog of borderless psychedelia. Now, with a solo album of Afro-funk rhythms and psych-folk freakouts of his own on the schedule I asked the band’s shrouded Goatman to weigh in on some overlooked fodder from the past. While the feature usually focuses on one album, there are, in fact, no rules to Hidden Gems. With that Goatman unearthed two gems from his past that he found intrinsically linked in space and time and by proximity of discovery. With that in mind he explores the impact of Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen and Carlos Garnett’s Black Love.

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Design Inspiration: Darryl Norsen

I’m excited to get back to a feature here at the site that takes a closer look at the designers behind the album art that adorns so many of my recent favorites. As much as any other part of the full album experience, good art draws a listener in and cinches the argument on owning the physical package. In the past this series has explored works from Robert Beatty, Jason Galea, and El Praraiso’s Jakob Skøtt. This week I’m shining a light on Darryl Norsen. You’ve most likely encountered Norsen’s work on excellent show posters, or in graphics for Raven contemporaries Aquarium Drunkard’s Talk House and Laginnappe series. Those of you winding down the extended path of Dead reissues would likely also have seen his work in recent Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders reissues and 75th Birthday materials. Norsen’s crisp type work and clean lines have also found their way into excellent albums from Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Three Lobed and No Quarter Records. As usual with this series, I asked Darryl to explore his own favorite sleeves and recount how they may have shaped his own approach to design.

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RSTB Shirts Pre-Order!!!

I’ve been wanting to get together some Raven merch for a long time and now things have finally aligned to make it happen. For the first ever Raven Sings the Blues t-shirt I asked award-winning illustrator Will Sweeney to design a shirt and he went for it! The design sums up all the psychedelic chaos you know and love from RSTB and highlights Sweeney’s intense character work. I’ve always thought of RSTB as a secret handshake between music freaks and now there’s some official merch to let ’em know you’re in on the secret.

Shirts will be printed on a per batch basis and will be shipped out as I get enough orders to fill print minimums. Keeping things small and and emphasizing quality around here. They should ship out a couple of weeks from purchase date. This is the first printing of the Sweeney design in a Black/Pink colorway, details of the design can be seen up close below. Buy ’em HERE!

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GØGGS’ Chris Shaw on Final Warning – “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

Got another edition of Hidden Gems and this time I’ve got Chris Shaw digging into his record bin to pick out a treasure that’s been roughed up by the injustice of history. If you’re unfamiliar with Shaw, he’s been the enigmatic front man for Ex-Cult, who burnt through a run on Goner and In The Red in the last few years. Following that he’s paired up with Ty Segall and mems of Fuzz to bash out psychedelic heaviness with GØGGS. Their latest LP elevates the band to a heady, heavy level that’s enviable to say the least. Now Chris looks back to a perennial favorite from Final Warning, a record that rips as hard today as it did in ’84. I asked Chris how this record came into his life and what impact it’s had on his own music.

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Mary Lattimore on Julee Cruise – Floating Into The Night

Next up on the dock for Hidden Gems is another favorite from this year. I caught Mary at Soundscape last year and her set was enigmatic in its depth and simplicity. She’s a master of using the harp to build emotive worlds and her latest record for Ghostly is one of the best records of 2018 for sure. I asked her to pick out a record that hadn’t gotten its due, a gem that despite merit doesn’t get fawned over as fervently as it should. She’s picked Julee Cruise’s debut LP, Floating Into The Night, a record that’s as much about atmosphere as it is about emotion. Seems like a perfect pairing to her own mastery of the same. While the record is forever associated with its most glaring TV and film associations, she tries to divorce it from its Lynchian moors and assess it on its own dreamy merits. Check out how the record came into her life and what impact its had on her own writing.

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